From Lepsy, Alfred Brehm and the other expedition members moved on to the north-east, over the Altai Mountains to Obdorsk in Siberia. Our journey, on the other hand, ended in the south-east of Kazakhstan – in the city of Almaty. The city lies on the mountain range of the Tian Shan – Transili-Alatau. This mighty mountain range can be seen from everywhere in the city, as can Pik Talgar (4978.9 m). Almaty was once the capital of the country until it was moved to Astana, now Nur-Sultan, in 1997. In contrast to the planned city, Almaty is an organically grown city where the potpourri of residential buildings, restaurants, cafés and shops creates a lively and charming atmosphere. Museums, galleries, cultural institutions and numerous universities make it the cultural and intellectual capital of the country.
We stayed in probably the most beautiful hotel in the city. The Kazakhstan Hotel with its golden crown is a true jewel of Soviet Brutalism. The three-day stay in Almty was also to be a crowning finale to this exciting journey filled with wondrous encounters and breathtaking experiences of nature. We strolled through the streets, let my old friend Shodi show us around the city and also sat at our laptops for a few hours: me for the blog and Volker already editing the photos for the upcoming exhibition.
There are some great destinations around Almaty, such as the Sharyn Canyons or the dune landscapes in the Altyn Emel National Park. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time for that and put these places on our “we have to come back” list. One excursion, however, seemed quite feasible. The Great Almaty Lake is a charming mountain lake, easily and quickly accessible by car. Faithful readers will perhaps take notice of the word “mountain lake”. And yes, once again we had to realise that mountain lakes were just not meant to be on this trip. This time it was not snow or water that blocked our way to the lake, but a barrier. In the small hut belonging to it, a man sat and explained: “Only people who work there are allowed to pass. The road is being repaired.” We were allowed to walk up. It would have taken about three hours to get to the gorge where the lake is situated at an altitude of 2511 metres. We mentally put Great Almaty Lake on the “we must come back” list and drove back to the city.